Judith Nangala Crispin

Image: Kerrie Brewer, Canberra Weekly

To use the terms musician, poet and artist in one sentence is unusual. ‘To find them in one person,’ declares Musica Viva’s Artistic Director Paul Kildea, ‘is a delight.’ A joy we’ll learn more about in 2021, as we unveil the appointment of Dr Judith Nangala Crispin as the company’s Artist in Residence.

Since 2011, Judith has spent several months each year working with Warlpiri people in the Tanami Desert, and with their help, has begun tracing her own Bpangerang Aboriginal ancestry. Guided by these conversations, Judith has explored the themes of intelligence of country and light through her art. The results are seen in extraordinary Lumen Prints, created with the bodies of Australian animals, with sticks, leaves, seeds, and Vegemite, exposed in natural light for over 30 hours, as demonstrated in our cover image.    

Judith now identifies as a poet and visual artist who draws upon elements from her musical training. The fearlessness with which she has moved from composition into other artforms is explained by her view that creativity is an organic evolution. ‘Think about the difference between music and poetry, there’s almost none. They both use time as a canvas, they both use intonation, metre, rhythm, they both convert a kind of narrative. They’re very closely aligned.’

This residency is a return to a company that Judith formed a relationship with as a young musician. She points to the organisation’s policy of commissioning emerging composers, and has fond memories of performances. ‘If it was a Musica Viva concert, you’d always hear something new.’

More details on our Artist In Residence coming soon.